The Development and Use of a Trade Space Visualization Model for Software-Defined Radio Receiver Design

Open Access
Davidson, Erik James
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
August 04, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Advisor
  • visualization
  • trade space
  • ATSV
  • SDR
  • Software-Defined Radio
  • trade space exploration
Software-defined radio (SDR) systems are flexible communications systems in which key operational radio characteristics are reconfigurable and defined in software. Free from many of the rigid constraints associated with traditional hardware radio (HR) systems, SDR systems are driving modern communications technology development and innovation. However, the ability to develop highly reconfigurable radio systems gives rise to a large number of difficult and complex multivariable design decisions involving tradeoffs between many design criteria. Essential system features such as cost, radio flexibility, size, weight, and power result not only from typical component selection choices but also from complex decisions such as those surrounding the determination of what will be defined in software versus hardware. The massive quantity of design alternatives and the complexity of the selection provide a challenge to the designer that can be overwhelming, motivating the need for new design tools. One tool that could serve to benefit SDR developers is a trade space visualization tool that supports multi-dimensional data visualization of design alternatives, tradeoffs, and goals. Such a tool would allow SDR developers to simulate design alternatives and visualize them while determining and analyzing design preferences for selection. This work describes the considerations, development, and use of a proof-of-concept model for trade space visualization of simple, single-RF-chain SDR receiver design to show the merits and feasibility of trade space visualization for SDR system design. For this work, system components were cataloged into SDR receiver component databases (SR-CDs), an SDR receiver model (SDR-RM) was developed, and an existing trade space visualization tool was leveraged that was developed at the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at The Pennsylvania State University called the ARL Trade Space Visualizer (ATSV).